Here is everything you need to know about the cultural highlight of the season.
Look out for the vibrant photography of Ethiopian artist Aïda Muluneh, whose solo exhibition will be presented by WaterAid. Muluneh's vibrant images explore the lives of women who travel on foot to collect water in one of the most extreme environments on the planet. The works come together in the form of Afrofuturist tableaux, shot against the extreme and otherworldly backdrop of Dallol, where the average annual temperature is 35 degrees celsius. The exhibition will take place in the Great Arch Hall between 24 September – 20 October.
Other photographic highlights include the work of Michel “Papami” Kameni, who documented postcolonial Cameroon from 1963 onwards. Through his photographic archive, the aspirations and artistic output of a nation in transition are laid bare.
There will also be a number of special projects featuring at the fair that are the product of artist residencies. One such display is courtesy of the Thread residency programme. The programme's organisers invite artists from around the world to work in their centre in Eastern Senegal and the work of two participating artists – London photographer Silvia Rosi and painter Anne-Marie Akussah – exploring ideas of identity and migration, will be on display.
A Reversed Retrogress: Scene 1 (The Purple Shall Govern) (2013), Mary Sibande (b. 1982). Courtesy of the artist and Gallery MOMO; © Mary Sibande
Mary Sibande: I Came Apart at the Seams
Mary Sibande is one of South Africa’s most celebrated contemporary artists. You might recognise her work. In 2011 She represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale. Now she is set to have her first solo UK exhibition in Somerset House's Terrace Room, which will open alongside the fair. Much of Sibande’s work incorporates her alter ego, Sophie, a character made from casts of Sibande’s own body and face.
Sophie represents a deeply personal family identity, as well as a wider story of forced servitude under apartheid. Through Sophie, who wears costumes inspired by the uniforms of domestic workers, Sibande rewrites history and subverts stereotypes. Colour plays a part in this story telling as Sophie’s clothes transition from blue to purple to red and her powers become supernatural.
The exhibition will run 3 October 2019 – 5 January 2020
Take a break
A communal lounge sits at the fair’s heart and provides a chance to chat and relax amid the bustle of the fair. This year's 1–54 Lounge will be designed by Distill 2710. The decor will be inspired by Nigerian Yoruba fabric traditions and influenced by the work of artist Chief Nike Okundaye. The space will showcase traditional batik techniques and indigo dyes, which are icons of the rich artistic heritage of West Africa.
Chuku's claims to be the world's first Nigerian tapas restaurant. The brain child of siblings Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick, the eatery is currently a successful pop-up "looking for a permanent home" and will be serving up dishes of authentic flavours in the fair's lounge. Expect dishes such as caramel kulfi kulfi chicken wings and moi-moi vegan tart.
|What||1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House|
|Where||Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Temple (underground)|
03 Oct 19 – 06 Oct 19, 12:00 AM
|Price||£19 for early bird tickets|
|Website||Click here for more information|